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Lean on specialists for tech and learn to say ‘No!’


Let accountants get on with what they do best and your practice will thrive, Damien Greathead of Intuit says.

By Philip King 10 minute read

Lean on specialists for technology and let accountants get on with what they do best are valuable lessons for a modern practice, says Damien Greathead, marketing leader for accounting and advisory at Intuit.

Speaking on the latest Accountants Daily podcast, Mr Greathead said another feature of successful firms was a willingness to turn away potentially lucrative clients who would divert your team from its strengths.

He cited an example of a Canadian start-up which began with a clear idea of the services it would offer and the clients it wanted to attract.

“They started as two people and they built their firm virtual first, so they don't have a physical office,” he said.

“But more importantly, they built their firm quite intentionally in terms of the types of services that they were providing, the types of clients they were working with, the types of tools that they were using.”

Now, eight or nine years later, they had 100 people distributed across Canada and were inundated with applicants to join.

“They literally are over-supplied with resumes with people that want to work at that firm because of what they've built,” he said.

From the start, they made onboarding and training a separate function and in that 100-strong team, there were now 10–12 people dedicated to getting clients up to speed on technology and troubleshooting problems.

“They said, ‘I don't want our accountants, our CPAs, our CAs, training our clients on the technology. I don't want them responsible for onboarding them, I don't want them responsible for troubleshooting. I want the accountants … working on the client[s], working on the relationship.’

“So they very much triage the work appropriately. Depending on the question, you either go to the accountant or you go to the training and onboarding team. That freed up everyone to focus on what they did best.”

Another critical factor was an ability to say no to clients who are not a good fit, even when they were referrals from existing clients. Their niche was technology companies, but they might get asked to take on, say, a hospitality company.

“They said, ‘No, that's not where we do our best work. That's not where we provide our best service. The technology systems, the tools, the training, the onboarding, is all designed for a very particular industry. And unfortunately, we couldn't provide that same experience if a hospitality company was to come on board. So really sorry, but no, we can't have you come on board as a client.’ ”

He said even established firms could turn themselves into specialists.

“There's no reason why a 10 to 15-year-old company couldn't make that transition as well. And I've seen plenty of firms do that.”


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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

You can email Philip on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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